12/11/06 — New high school gets grant, will add ninth grade in 2007

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New high school gets grant, will add ninth grade in 2007

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 11, 2006 1:45 PM

The Wayne Early/Middle College High School is up and running, with a $285,000 grant recently received and another grade being added in the fall, officials said.

The school, established in August 2006 on the campus of Wayne Community College, started with 66 juniors and seniors taking high school and college level courses. Next fall, ninth grade will be added, so that by 2008 the school will encompass all four high school grades.

Principal Lee Johnson told the Board of Education last week that the school has a real family atmosphere.

"It's a truly diverse group of learners," she said. The school's population represents six public high schools, private and home school backgrounds, as well as youths new to the county, she said. Two students have been chosen as candidates for Governor's School and another for a Teaching Fellow.

Even though academics are at the core of the program, with students taking honors level and college courses, relationship-building is also stressed, Mrs. Johnson said.

"We don't have discipline problems. ... They feel like they matter," she said. "They chose to be here because they like the atmosphere, the small environment."

Next year, the school will shift to the early college concept, adding about 60 ninth-graders. Applications will be taken for the openings, Mrs. Johnson said.

"It's open to all eighth-graders across the county," she said. "We'll go to all 10 middle schools, and have parents nights at all of them.

"The school will be open to all, but we'll be targeting first-generation college students."

With 22 seniors expected to graduate this year, another class of juniors will also be recruited to attend the school, she said.

Students completing the program can graduate with a high school diploma and a two-year degree or be ready to transfer to another college.

Wayne County Public Schools has acquired a grant through the New Schools Project that will establish the program in the same location, Mrs. Johnson said.

The grant is for $285,000 per year for a five-year period and funds support positions, a coach, staff development, program implementation and evaluation. It also provides for three positions -- a guidance counselor, work-based learning coordinator and college liaison/program coordinator.